A loud crowd jammed the Minnesota Capitol rotunda Saturday morning demanding the top 2% of Minnesota earners pay their fair share in state income taxes. Right now those earning the most pay a much lower rate than the middle and lower classes.
Press release from rally organizer Take Action Minnesota.
Minnesotans rally against cuts, for fair taxes and good jobs
People’s Rally demands top 2% pay their share, protect education and health care
A diverse group of Minnesotans filled the Capitol Rotunda Saturday morning, calling on the legislature to increase taxes on the richest two percent of Minnesotans, producing a fair budget. Faced with devastating cuts to education and health care, an estimated 1,000 participants called for a responsible budget that protects Minnesotans and vital services, and that creates good jobs.
“I come from a part of the state that knows that that when we invest in our workers, our schools, our health programs, and our environment, everyone benefits. And that everyone should pay their fair share for those benefits,” said farmer Terry VanDerPol, a cattle producer from Granite Falls and a member of the Land Stewardship Project.
Speakers at the People’s Rally for a Fair Minnesota asserted that the state has sufficient wealth to maintain a high quality of life, as long as the legislature chooses to fairly tax the richest two percent of Minnesotans—including some CEOs and executives who have put profits ahead of health care and decent jobs for Minnesota families.
“There is no budget deficit. The only deficit in our state right now is the deficit of imagination and the deficit of moral clarity,” said Grant Stevenson, a Lutheran pastor and President of ISAIAH.
Citing banking executives as an example of those who should pay their fair share, Kerry Felder of Minnesota Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) shared the story of tough times and foreclosures that hit her neighborhood hard, and her neighbors’ determination not to allow their local public high school to close. “I don’t need anything free. I just need a break like the one we, the taxpayers, gave the banks when we bailed them out,” said Felder.
“I am here fighting for an economy that works for my children, grandchildren, friends and coworkers. I know there is enough money in Minnesota to provide good jobs and decent health insurance to all the people who work hard,” said Tilly Gitchuway, a Minneapolis Public Schools food service worker.
Woodbury resident Anne Marie Metzger, of TakeAction Minnesota argued that it is time for the public to get back health care dollars from the insurance industry, “Over time, HMOs receive more and more public plan customers and provide less health care and pocket the difference. That money, our taxpayer money, ends up in reserves. Together the top four HMOs in public health plans have $1.5 billion in reserves. Reserves, they claim they need for a rainy day. Well the rainy day is here, and we need that money, along with fair taxes for the richest 2% to pay for public healthcare and lower premiums. “
The demand for good jobs and responsible corporate behavior also extended to Cub Foods, whose cleaning workers have met with violent resistance and intimidation in their attempts to establish a code of conduct with the grocery chain. CTUL (Centro de Trabajadores Unides en Lucha) announced an open-ended hunger strike to oppose the abusive treatment of workers and invited rally participants to join them at the Cub Foods Lake Street store (at Minnehaha) to begin the hunger strike.
“We work every night surrounded by food, but all too often, cannot afford to put food on the table for our own families,” said Mario Colloly Torres, a Cub Foods cleaner who was fired after attempts to organize other workers.
Dean Nelson, a meat cutter at Cub Foods and a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) asked, “Why is it the little guy is supposed to sacrifice while the CEO’s and stockholders of these companies make millions?”
After the rally, many of the participants boarded buses to protest CEOs and corporations that have profited at the expense of good jobs and the community, yet refuse to pay their fair share to maintain the public services needed to restore opportunity for all Minnesotans.
“It betrays the principles of fairness and compassion we Minnesotans hold dear to provide tax breaks to corporations and the rich at the expense of educating our children and keeping our communities healthy,” Trilby White, an acute care nurse and small business owner told the rally.